Kirsten Johnson

Director/ Cinematographer

Kirsten Johnson, Director/ Cinematographer

Classes taught:
Cinematography and Sound II

Kirsten Johnson has worked as both documentary cinematographer and director committing herself to human rights issues and visual creativity. She is the principal cinematographer on over 40 feature-length documentaries and has been credited on countless others. After graduating from Brown University in 1987 with a BA in Fine Arts and Literature she travelled to Senegal to study with acclaimed filmmakers Djibril Diop Mambety and Ousmane Sembene. The experience inspired her to apply to the French National Film School (La Femis), where she began to study cinematography. While in La Femis she began to shoot the documentary Derrida, with directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick the earliest of Johnson’s work to appear in Cameraperson. After graduating from La Femis she went on to shoot a number of highly-acclaimed and award-winning documentaries including “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” “Fahrenheit 9/11” “This Film is Not Yet Rated” and “The Invisible War.” She has a longstanding collaboration with Oscar-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, credited as cinematographer for “The Oath,” “Citizenfour,” the upcoming ""Asylum."" Additionally, she shot footage that appeared in Poitras' visual exhibition on surveillance, which opened at the Whitney Museum in spring 2016. In 2009 Johnson embarked on a directorial project documenting the lives of two teenagers in Afghanistan, the film was to be called “A Blind Eye.” After 3 years of shooting and cutting one of the teenagers retracted her permission to be featured and the film’s scope was reconsidered and structured around the footage that was shot, as well as footage from over 30 films Johnson had worked on over the years. Eventually this was edited into the film that became ""Cameraperson."" When not shooting she teaches the class in “Visual Thinking” at the NYU Graduate Journalism Department, a course in cinematography at SVA, and often leads workshops for young camerapeople and documentarians under the auspices of the Arab Art and Culture Fund in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

Faculty News view all

DOC NYC Shows 13 SocDoc Films
October 24, 2017

DOC NYC Shows 13 SocDoc Films

Fall is upon us and that means DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, is right around the corner.  SVA SocDoc is thrilled to announce a full lineup of alumni and faculty films and panels. Read More
Info Sessions: Nov. 20 (online) & Dec. 2 (NYC)
October 20, 2017

Info Sessions: Nov. 20 (online) & Dec. 2 (NYC)

Are you interested in combining social activism and creativity? Passionate about storytelling? The Read More
Prospective Students: Attend Fall Process & Style Screenings
September 28, 2017

Prospective Students: Attend Fall Process & Style Screenings

If you're interested in joining SVA's MFA Social Documentary Film program, we encourage you to come by for a tour of the department, and to sit in on our weekly screening series that comprise our Process & Style class on Thursday evenings. Read More
7th Annual Thesis Showcase Lineup Announced
August 31, 2017

7th Annual Thesis Showcase Lineup Announced

Join us to celebrate GROUP 7, the class of 2017 with our annual Thesis Showcase.  Here we screen each graduate’s work-in-progress thesis films. They inspire and amaze us. We hope you feel the same!
 
Screenings are Sept. 22-23 at the SVA Theatre, and are free & open to the public. Read More